Anarchist Schools of Thought - Individualist Anarchism - Egoist Anarchism

Egoist Anarchism

Egoist anarchism is a school of anarchist thought that originated in the philosophy of Max Stirner, a nineteenth century Hegelian philosopher whose "name appears with familiar regularity in historically orientated surveys of anarchist thought as one of the earliest and best-known exponents of individualist anarchism." Stirner's philosophy is usually called "egoism". He says that the egoist rejects devotion to "a great idea, a good cause, a doctrine, a system, a lofty calling," saying that the egoist has no political calling but rather "lives themselves out" without regard to "how well or ill humanity may fare thereby." Stirner held that the only limitation on the rights of the individual is his power to obtain what he desires. He proposes that most commonly accepted social institutions—including the notion of State, property as a right, natural rights in general, and the very notion of society—were mere spooks in the mind. Stirner wanted to "abolish not only the state but also society as an institution responsible for its members."

Max Stirner's idea of the union of egoists (German: Verein von Egoisten), was first expounded in The Ego and Its Own. The Union is understood as a non-systematic association, which Stirner proposed in contradistinction to the state. The Union is understood as a relation between egoists which is continually renewed by all parties' support through an act of will. The Union requires that all parties participate out of a conscious egoism. If one party silently finds themselves to be suffering, but puts up with it and keeps up appearances, the union has degenerated into something else. This union is not seen as an authority above a person's own will. This idea has received interpretations for politics, economic and sex/love.

Though Stirner's philosophy is individualist, it has influenced some libertarian communists and anarcho-communists. "For Ourselves Council for Generalized Self-Management" discusses Stirner and speaks of a "communist egoism," which is said to be a "synthesis of individualism and collectivism," and says that "greed in its fullest sense is the only possible basis of communist society." Forms of libertarian communism such as insurrectionary anarchism are influenced by Stirner. Anarcho-communist Emma Goldman was influenced by both Stirner and Peter Kropotkin and blended their philosophies together in her own.

The Scottish born German writer John Henry Mackay found out about Stirner while reading a copy of Friedrich Albert Lange´s History of Materialism and Critique of its Present Importance. Later he looked for a copy of The Ego and Its Own and after being fascinated with it he wrote a biography of Stirner (Max Stirner - sein Leben und sein Werk), published in German in 1898. Mackay´s propaganda of stirnerist egoism and of male homosexual and bisexual rights had an impact on Adolf Brand who published the world's first ongoing homosexual publication, Der Eigene in 1896. Another later German anarchist publication influenced deeply by Stirner was Der Einzige. It appeared in 1919, as a weekly, then sporadically until 1925 and was edited by cousins Anselm Ruest (pseud. for Ernst Samuel) and Mynona (pseud. for Salomo Friedlaender).

Stirnerian egoism became a main influence on European individualist anarchism including its main proponents in the early 20th century such as Emile Armand and Han Ryner in France, Renzo Novatore in Italy, Miguel Giménez Igualada in Spain and in Russia Lev Chernyi. Illegalism was an anarchist practice that developed primarily in France, Italy, Belgium, and Switzerland during the early 1900s that found justification in Stirner´s philosophy. The illegalists openly embraced criminality as a lifestyle. Some American individualist anarchists such as Benjamin Tucker, abandoned natural rights positions and converted to Max Stirner's Egoist anarchism. Among those American anarchists who adhered to egoism include Benjamin Tucker, John Beverley Robinson, Steven T. Byington, Hutchins Hapgood, James L. Walker, Victor Yarros and E.H. Fulton. John Beverley Robinson wrote an essay called "Egoism" in which he states that "Modern egoism, as propounded by Stirner and Nietzsche, and expounded by Ibsen, Shaw and others, is all these; but it is more. It is the realization by the individual that they are an individual; that, as far as they are concerned, they are the only individual." Anarchist communist Emma Goldman was influenced by both Stirner and Peter Kropotkin as well as the Russian strain of individualist anarchism, and blended these philosophies together in her own, as shown in books of hers such as Anarchism And Other Essays.Enrico Arrigoni (pseudonym: Frank Brand) was an Italian American individualist anarchist Lathe operator, house painter, bricklayer, dramatist and political activist influenced by the work of Max Stirner. Stirner´s philosophy also found followers in Colombia in Biófilo Panclasta and in Japan in Jun Tsuji and Sakae Osugi.

In the 1980s in the United States emerged the tendency of post-left anarchy which was influenced profoundly by stirnerist egoism in aspects such as the critique of ideology.

Read more about this topic:  Anarchist Schools Of Thought, Individualist Anarchism

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    Anarchism is the only philosophy which brings to man the consciousness of himself; which maintains that God, the State, and society are non-existent, that their promises are null and void, since they can be fulfilled only through man’s subordination. Anarchism is therefore the teacher of the unity of life; not merely in nature, but in man.
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